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Bennett to announce he’s joining opposition to form new Israeli government, oust Netanyahu

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The leader of right-wing Yamina party Naftali Bennett could announce as early as Sunday that he is joining opposition leader Yair Lapid to form a power-sharing government in Israel, sources familiar with the issue tell Axios.

Why it matters: If a new “change government” will be formed, Bennett will be prime minister and will bring an end to 12 years of Benjamin Netanyahu rule. Such a development could end the political crisis that led to four consecutive elections in two years.

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Flashback: Three weeks ago, Lapid was on the verge of forming a power-sharing government that would see Bennett serve first as prime minister for two years before Lapid rotates into the job. But Bennett backtracked amid the Gaza conflict.

Driving the news: Bennett met Lapid on Thursday and according to several press reports told Lapid he wants to join a power-sharing government, but still needs to get other members of his party behind him, mainly his deputy Ayelet Shaked.

  • Bennett held consultations on Saturday night (local time) with Shaked and other close confidants.

What to watch: On Sunday morning, he will hold a meeting with all the members of Knesset from his party to hear their views on the possibility of joining a “change government.”

The big picture: If a new government is formed, it will be the most wide-ranging coalition ever formed in Israel.

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Such a government will be highly fragile, avoid controversial issues, take all decisions in consensus and focus on the economy, post-COVID-19 relief and stabilization of the Gaza ceasefire.

  • Even such an agreed-upon agenda will be very hard to implement and the government could fall apart within months.

What’s next: Lapid’s mandate for forming a government expires on Wednesday.

  • If Bennett announces he’s joining the “change government,” Lapid wants to sign all coalition agreements by Wednesday, notify Israeli President Reuven Rivlin he managed to form and swear in the new government as early as next Monday.
  • This gives Netanyahu another week to try and sabotage the new government and prevent Lapid and Bennett from mastering the majority they need.
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